Violent Acts Leave Some Thankful for Their Lives

Nov 21, 2012 | Updated Jan 21, 2013

This is a week for reflection and gratitude and many of us have much to be thankful for -- notwithstanding conflicts, including those in Israel and Gaza, and Hurricane Sandy's devastation.

Unfortunately, some of our neighbors are grateful just to be alive -- not because of natural disasters but because of members of their community. Two incidents of violence, one extreme, were perpetrated at houses of worship in recent days.

In Queens, a man was stabbed repeatedly from behind while opening the Masjid Al-Saaliheen mosque for prayer on Sunday. Fortunately, the victim survived and is recovering at his home. During the attack, the would-be murderer shouted anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic slurs.

Just seven days before, according to several news sources, a white male about 17-22 damaged expensive cars at the parking lot of a gurudwara (a place of worship for Sikhs) and then threw stones at a young child who was playing in the parking lot. The incident took place in Georgia. The alleged perpetrator escaped after causing $10,000 worth of damage.

These attacks are simply not acceptable. Violence against any group based on their religious beliefs tears our society apart. It's our responsibility to denounce violence based on religious difference at every occurrence.

One way to prepare is to learn more about our neighbors from unfamiliar cultures. Discover more about the Sikh community in the United States, visit To learn more about Islam, read our Muslims and Islam in the United States fact sheet and Diversity in Islam fact sheet.

During these days of celebration, I encourage you to be thankful for our diversity. Diversity strengthens us personally and as a society, and supporting diversity is one of the keys to lasting peace.

Wishing each of you a holiday filled with reasons to be grateful.